Signed, Shocked in GA

Here’s the problem:  People want to take their dogs off leash in public parks because I guess it’s too tedious to have to actually hold the leash.  Especially when they haven’t trained the dog to walk without pulling the owner’s arm out of its socket.  So that’s two things – holding the leash and training *shudder*.

Then there are people who want to use the public parks without strange dogs running up to/jumping on/chasing them.  This group includes people walking their own dogs on leash as well as people who come to the park without dogs (Whaaaa?).

The people who can’t be bothered to train the dog to walk normally on a leash are often the same ones who claim the dog to be under “voice control”.  Pretty much everyone on the planet knows this is a crock.

A city in Georgia is debating what to do about this issue.  One idea:

At tonight’s city council workshop, resident Richard Linteris showed off a special wireless collar that can be triggered to shock a dog who misbehaves or strays too far.

Don’t worry folks.  This man is a professional:

“I guarantee you, you crank these up and you can get a dog to stop whatever he’s doing, the bad behavior, 100 percent of the time,” Linteris said.

Oh dear.

I have an alternate proposal:  How about we shock people who don’t train their dogs and let them run wild in public parks?  I’m normally anti-shock collar but if it will stop these owners’ bad behavior 100% of the time, I could maybe make an exception.

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16 Comments

  1. A quality ‘wireless shock collar’ or electronic training collar (or ecollar) in good hands is, IMO, a good option. Proper use of an ecollar is no more stressful than use of any other training tool.

    Speaking of ‘tools’ – Mr. Linteris does a rather excellent job of demonstrating exactly how an ecollar should not be used. At least on dogs.

    And – if an owner is too lazy to train or walk his dog using conventional tools, he’s also much too lazy to train it with an ecollar. It isn’t a magic wand that suddenly makes your dog behave – it’s just a tool.

    Reply
    • I love the idea that a dog who isn’t listening to the owner calling for it to stop running after that kid is going to immediately know how to interpret an electric shock. It might well make the dog bite the kid he’s chasing! But I guess that wasn’t brought up at the meeting.

      Reply
  2. Well no, why bring up the inconvenient truth?

    There is no substitute for training. And IMO proper use of ecollars does not involve big, punitive zaps except in very rare cases.

    Reply
    • I got the impression from the speaker at the meeting you had to “crank ’em up” or whatever it was. I honestly think he is intending to use the collar like a taser – to immobilize the dog temporarily with pain. HOW on earth is the dog supposed to sort out WHY he’s getting the shock and what behavior to offer instead if he’s not trained? ugh.

      Reply
  3. selkie

     /  April 13, 2010

    Not a fan of shock collars at all – sorry, no matter how “well trained” the handler is they are to me, downright sadistic – you are ELECTROCUTING your dog – fancy it up, change it around, that is what it is doing – and to me a dog is FAR more likely to react to that ….also, keep thinking of the studies they did way back when Milgram did his shock therapy on human subjects…. scary stuff.

    I find public exposure works wonders. I know I have confronted people in these situations and challenged them politely but firmly on controlling their dogs. It is a HUGE issue everywhere. My dogs do NOT do well when confronted with loose dogs pushing their buttons and it is extremely frustrating ….

    Reply
  4. Susan

     /  April 13, 2010

    Very few things are black and white (except skunks and most Boston Terriers.)

    Until recently, my dogs stayed close to my ankles when we walked in the nearby circle, and came promptly when called if they wandered at all (I also followed close behind, since even if I didn’t have their leashes in my hand, I wanted them near). People used to comment how remarkable it was that they stayed with me. Something changed, though. This spring they won’t stay with me. So I don’t let them off the leash. End of story. No more trust, no more freedom. They probably don’t understand, but it doesn’t matter. Maybe I can work on their recall at the dog park and the magic will come back, but until and unless it does, they are leashed doggies.

    Reply
  5. Susan

     /  April 13, 2010

    @selkie
    I am a firm believer that dogs should be under your control wherever you are, even at a dog park. Sunday, a white terrier decided he had an absolute right to the contents of my pockets and all his owner would do was “Harris, off. Stop that. Stop.” Finally the dog just attacked my pocket and I grabbed it’s snout until it let go. Unfortunately, that left me with a hole in a nice pair of shorts. Isn’t it sort of basic to teach your dog not to molest members of the public?

    Reply
  6. No. You’re not “electrocuting”. Electrocution is defined as “the stoppage of life by use of electrical shock.”

    And Milgram’s work was horrific. He used unnecessarily high levels of shock. Comparing this to levels used on modern ecollars is like saying being hit by a car is the same as being hit by a nerf ball.

    Reply
    • EmilyS

       /  April 13, 2010

      what’s the learning theory behind why e-collars (properly used as you have described) work?

      Reward based training (using food, toys, etc) works because complying yields something a dog wants.

      Why do ecollars?

      Reply
  7. I thought the Milgram experiments involved actors pretending to be shocked, not actual electricity, and the controversy was about the emotional distress caused to those who were led to believe they were shocking people, even though they could have refused to participate.

    Reply
  8. selkie

     /  April 14, 2010

    yes, Valerie, it did – my point was that people miscalculated, ignored and actually went ahead THINKING the PERSON was being shocked to the point of real pain. Everything I have read about shock collars indicates that there are so many negative factosr involved. First, as EmilyS says, it is negative reinforcement, which I dont’ think is the most effective way to teach a dog, Second, it is VERY difficult even for someone trained in the use of the collars to hit that ‘sweet’ moment where the shock will actually get across the “lesson” intended – it is far more common that the shocks come out of nowhere with no “lesson” attached for most dogs. From my observation with people I know who have used them and from what I have read, the shock collars are far more likely to create fear, panic and ultimately aggression in dogs. Just my two cents – obviously they are legal in many places (and illegal in quite a few!) – so each to their own.

    Reply
    • EmilyS

       /  April 14, 2010

      In my question here, I didn’t say it was negative reinforcement, or that negative reinforcement is a bad thing. Or even that it caused pain. Yes, I assume it does, as earpinching (which I have observed being done by experts) does. But perhaps I’m wrong, and that’s why I ask the question about why its proponents believe it works.

      Reply
  9. Milgram never shocked nobody, nor did any of his research subjects.

    Selkie, maybe you should observe someone who knows what he is doing, or even read a bit more widely than “from what I have read.”

    Timing issues with an electronic collar are no more difficult than with any other tool.

    Just because some people have hopeless timing doesn’t mean that everyone does, or that this is some specialized skill only available to olympic athletes.

    If you can drive a car, you can master the timing to train a dog.

    Reply
  10. selkie

     /  April 14, 2010

    I’m well aware there was no actual shocks, but the INTENT was there and of course with shock collars there ARE shocks.

    and the problem I see with them, is that anyone can get one – in the hands of a competent trainer of course they can be effective- my point is that it is usually THE incompetent individuals who resort to them.

    as I said, each to their own – you’re entitled to your opinion, and I to mine!

    Reply
  11. The science behind how some people (not all) use electronic training collars is explained very well in Daniel F. Tortora’s study, titled “Safety Training: The Elimination of Avoidance-Motivated Aggression in Dogs,” published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General in 1983. The article is only available by purchase but is well worth $11.95 if you have an interest in this area.

    More on this in a blogpost when I have time and energy.

    Reply
  12. With the number of irresponsible and abusive pet owners, the e-collar (in the wrong hands) can be a dangerous and sad experience for the animal involved. Whether or not it actually works (I have no direct experience w/it) should be secondary to who’s allowed to operate it. I like the idea of fitting derelict owners provided (like the dogs) no one tells them what the rules are and they just have to figure it out on their own, by getting zapped.

    Reply

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